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The comparison won’t please Michele Bachmann or her supporters. Terry Branstad, the incumbent governor of Iowa who had previously served in that capacity some years ago and thus is very much a part of the Midwestern Republican establishment, compared the insurgent Tea Partier’s presidential bid to Barack Obama’s this week.

In an interview with Politico, he said in reference to Bachmann and her lack of executive experience, “[e]specially when you look at how we elected a candidate who had charisma but no experience and you look at the situation we’re in today, a lot of people are saying we need more than charisma,” he noted. “We need experience and the ability to make tough decisions that chief executives have to make.”

The tension between GOP stalwarts and fresher, anti-establishment voices is not a new one, and insurgent, populist candidacies, like those of Pat Buchanan and Mike Huckabee, can shake up Republican primaries and give the Wall Street wing of the party a scare. What Bachmann is trying to do is shore up her middle by making sane, coherent appearances on television and boosting her gravitas in the eyes of the national media. And judging by the fawning of strategists and journalists of both parties in recent weeks, she’s succeeding.

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